Updated: 09/03/12 : 05:34:24
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Fears as 12,000 bank jobs could be lost

Banking jobs cuts will soar to as many as 12,000 since the start of the financial crisis, it is now feared.

Rank-and-file leaders have warned the 6,000 lay-offs from around the time of the State banking guarantee in September 2008 will likely double over the coming few years.

Seamus Sheils, spokesman for the Irish Banking Officials Association, said frontline, lower-paid workers in the industry felt they were being sacrificed while those who caused the collapse continued lives of luxury.

“When this crisis started we suggested that as many as 10,000 jobs could go, and it gives us no satisfaction to say that suggestion is closer to fulfilment every day,” he said.

“We now fear significantly more than that will be lost – it could be 12,000.”

Mr Sheils added: “The jobs that have gone are generally among the rank and file. There’s a sense of injustice, they feel they are being scapegoated for the reckless behaviour of others at a much higher level.

“It would appear still that no-one at those higher levels who would bear responsibility for the near collapse of Irish banking are going to be held to account.

“One or two are under investigation, which has been ongoing for some time now.”

Over the past three-and-a-half years, and including today’s announcement of 2,500 lay-offs at AIB, there have been more than 10,000 redundancies announced across the financial sector.

Others include:

:: more than 3,000 staff at AIB and Bank of Ireland, who were let go from temporary contracts or who retired or resigned but were not replaced.

:: 1,000 job losses at Ulster Bank in 2009, along with a further 950 announced earlier this year in January.

:: 750 redundancies at Bank of Scotland (Ireland) when it closed its Halifax branch network in the Irish Republic in 2010.

:: 150 from National Irish Bank the same year.

:: between 600 and 700 jobs gone from Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Nationwide and permanent TSB.

:: Some 320 jobs already gone from an agreed 750 lay-offs at Bank of Ireland.

The eventual winding up of the former Anglo Irish Bank, the Irish Banking Resolution Corporation (IRBC), is expected to shed around another 1,000 staff currently on its books. Latest estimates suggest it could be shut down completely in as a little as five years time.

There were further job losses with the closure of smaller operations, such as PostBank – a partnership between An Post and French bank BNP Paribas – two years ago.

The IBOA has also warned that the future plans of permanent TSB and Irish Life remain unclear.

“Ordinary bank officials feel a sense of frustration that they are suffering significant losses whereas those who are closer to the engine room and closer to steering the ship onto the rocks appear to have escaped relatively unscarred,” said Mr Sheils.

“Many of these people have left their institutions with golden parachutes, living in extreme comfort and don’t really appear to have suffered any significant loss other than perhaps some reputational damage.”

Mr Sheils suggested frontline banking staff wouldn’t have to face so much anger and wrath from the public if some of those responsible for the collapse were publicly held to account.